Netflix's "The Strays" is a horror thriller film. (Netflix)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Don’t stray away from a recommendation for Netflix’s “The Strays”

Netflix's horror thriller film "The Strays" follows a suburban woman’s privileged life unravel when two strangers show up in her suburban town.
<a href="" target="_self">J'Dyn Scruggs</a>

J'Dyn Scruggs

April 13, 2023
The following contains spoilers from “The Strays.” 

Netflix has done it again folks, they have made another great movie recommendation for all you movie lovers and people who are just sick and tired of watching or waiting for a new season to come for a series that you’ve enjoyed so much. This time this recommendation comes in the genre form of a horror thriller film called The Strays.”

This film is rated R. At the beginning of the film warns of violence before it begins so watch it while you can before Netflix decides to be rid of this phenomenal film.

The Netflix description describes the plot as, “A woman’s meticulously crafted life of privilege starts to unravel when two strangers show up in her quaint suburban town.”

Just from the description itself, you get the feeling that viewers are going to experience a similar plot and character elements that the blockbuster Get Out is based on where you have the Black protagonist who is most likely going to go through terrifying trials and tribulations of trying to survive a group most likely white antagonists who are not who they say they are.

It also feels similar to the characters in the movie Us where the Black protagonists face off with a Black antagonist but with a little bit of a twist.

Aside from the description and the phenomenal poster, what truly captures the audience’s attention is the movie’s capability of captivating the topics of racist microaggression, child abandonment, the profound effects of trauma, and mixed-raced families. 

At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to a woman named Cheryl Blake (Ashley Madekwe) who lives in an impoverished part of London and struggles to make ends meet financially with her abusive partner. She is talking on the phone with a family member telling them that she wishes to have more within her life. After an opportunity is presented to her, she packs her bags, takes one look in the mirror, then journeys away from her old life and moves away from the city.

Years later, we see that Cheryl who now has a new alias as Neve, and built a successful career as the deputy head of a private school and living in a wealthy white-dominated suburban neighborhood with her new husband Ian (Justin Salinger) and their son, Sebastian (Samuel Small), and daughter, Mary (Maria Almeida).

When it comes to Neve she tries as best as possible to ensure that her former life and her Black identity are hidden from her neighbors by constantly practicing code-switching every morning to sound just like them instead of her usual self. Though she has done this routine many times, this begins to unravel when a young Black man and woman arrive in her area, and she starts to have paranoid hallucinations of her former life creeping its way into her new one. 

In the second part of the movie we are introduced to the two main antagonists of the movie, Carl (Jorden Myrie) and Dione (Bukky Bakray) the son and daughter who were abandoned by their former mother (Cheryl) 18 years ago.

After tracking down the whereabouts of their former mother on social media, both take on the fake aliases as Marvin and Abigail and begin to slowly insert themselves within Neve’s new life by befriending Sebastian and Mary and taking on jobs that are closely related to Neve and her husband’s.

Due to the growing resentment and jealousy of their half-sibling’s privileged lives and the mother’s abandonment of them, they plan to crash Neve’s charity event which causes a lot of family drama and the aftermath leads to Neve revealing to her new family her real identity.

Now that the truth has been revealed about Neve, she then visits her former children at a fast food restaurant, to secretly try to pay off Carl and Dione so that they can move on and leave her alone of her new life. After the realization that their mother wants nothing to do with them, Carl and Dione pretend to be happy with the deal and accept the money but this just grows the resentment and hatred even more which leads to the dark ending of the movie.

The beginning of the ending of the movie starts off with the pair of abandoned angered siblings breaking into their former mother’s family home in the middle of the night; stealing and soaking the family’s phones in the kitchen sink so they’re not able to call for help and make themselves at home by drawing a bath and putting the tv on blast so the family can be drawn to go downstairs.

As the family makes it downstairs Carl informs the family that it was Dione’s birthday and thought they should all celebrate together and order takeout. In this part, we can truly see the devastation Cheryl’s departure has had on both children’s mental states as they aggressively order the family around to celebrate Dione’s birthday despite it being so early in the morning.

While Dione is more passive and childlike, her brother on the other hand is very unhinged; grabbing his mother as she tries to escape and heading budding Ian after he tries to defuse the situation. As the entire confrontation happens the faucet is still left on to try to make some sort of power play with the family to deteriorate the family or act as some sort of way to destroy the family’s once lavished and privileged home that they envy.

As Carl orders the family to find a board game to play, he reveals to Neve’s family about the deal she tried to make with them at the restaurant which causes Ian, Mary, and Sebastian to have disgust with her actions and her and also reveals to Neve of the events that they had to endure with her mother’s absence and the deterioration of their mental states growing up. Neve pretends to play along with Carl and Dionne in order to find a way out of this dangerous situation but doesn’t realize that Carl sees right through her ploy and takes a more drastic method for his revenge.

As he pulls and wields a machete in his hand, Carl then forces Ian to the family’s in-door gym insisting that he performs reps with heavy weights in a form of humiliation but then after doing all this agonizing torture to poor Ian who had nothing to do with this, Carl then threatens Ian with the machete which then makes Ian drop the heavyweights on to his head killing him with an off-screen death.

In the film’s final moments of the film, the delivery driver for Dione’s Chinese food finally arrives, and Neve answers the door and sees the opportunity for a moment of escape. After telling and going to get a tip for the delivery man, Neve then goes upstairs to get her wallet and pack a bag for herself before making her getaway.

Before leaving home, Neve looks back at the mirror just as she did in her old home before abandoning her old life. She then restarts the same cycle as she did in her old life; abandoning all her children and her responsibilities. The film then closes with Carl, Dione, Mary, and Sebastian gathering around the door and sharing the same trauma of abandonment of their mother and those becoming “The Strays” hence the title of the film.

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